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How to Write Subject Lines for Effective Brand Marketing


The primary goal of email marketing is to induce customers to click into your website. While the content and design of your branded Email is crucial in affecting this, the Subject Line can make or break your email campaign. Marketers have less than 3 seconds to make an impression with the Subject Line before a customer hits “delete.”

1. Leverage the Brand Name
The most important thing your subject line can do is trigger recognition. You want and need people to recognize your company name and think, “I know these guys. I’ve Opted In to this newsletter. Their stuff is always worth reading.” If you have a proven track record of sending quality information and offers to your clientele, including your brand name is a smart way to get your message opened.

According to research conducted by SilverPOP, DigitalDay’s email marketing partner:

“When open rates were evaluated, Silverpop found that emails with branded subject lines generated significantly higher open rates.

  • B-to-C emails with the brand or company name in the subject line enjoyed open rates of 29 percent on average, compared to 22 percent without branding.
  • B-to-B emails showed even more dramatic results. B-to-B emails with the company or brand name in the subject line experienced an average open rate of 32 percent, compared to just 20 percent for messages without branded subject lines.

However, only a little more than half (55 percent) of B-to-B emails and 46 percent of B-to-C messages evaluated included the brand and/or company name in the subject line, which presents a good opportunity for marketers.”

2. Keep it Short, Sweet & Branded
To ensure your customers know the email is from you, put the brand name up front.

Because subject lines are often truncated at around 40 characters — and because email readers usually have their index fingers poised over the delete button – you’re left with about three seconds and approximately six words to make an impression.

Why 40 characters? Because most email applications only show that many characters for incoming email. Forty characters works out to around 6 words (including spaces).

Although many marketing experts suggest sticking to a 40-character subject line they also point out that users of BlackBerrys and other mobile devices can only see 15 characters of a subject line — another reason to have your brand name up front.

Your “Subject Line” and your “From Line” are the only two spaces — at least for those customers who don’t use preview panes — in which you get to distinguish yourself and your brand, so get to the point and do it quickly.

3. Speak to Your Audience
While your emails may be distributed to thousands or millions of recipients, they are received by individuals. Subject lines must recognize this and “speak” to the needs and interests of individual customers, readers or prospects.

As with all your copywriting, you should know who your target market is, who they are as people, what they do, what motivates them, how busy they are.

Personalized e-mail can increase the response you receive by as much as 64% because the recipient assumes you know them — and is therefore more likely to open the email. A subject line like “Barbara, Smucker’s Has Recipes Kids Love” is going to get a much better response than simply “Here Are Some Recipes For Kids.”

Also, be sure to Use Upper Case On The First Letter Of Each Word . . . just like that.

4. Avoid SPAM-Inducing Copy

The subject line content is a major component in the algorithm of many ISP and recipient-level spam filters. In other words, a poorly written Subject Line may not only go unopened, it may never even reach the recipient’s inbox.

  • Make sure that you keep your subject lines completely free from exclamation points!!!
  • Avoid ALL CAPS
  • Avoid the kind of language that sets off people’s spam-sniffers — words like “exclusive”, “free”, “opportunity”, “limited time”, “hurry” and “only”.
  • And, while it’s generally a good thing to use the word “you” in promotional writing, it’s a spam-predictor in subject lines. Few folks use the word “you” in e-mails to friends; lots of spammers use it.

5. Test on Yourself
When writing your Subject Line, do a quick test by sending an email to yourself. Try sending test samples with different subject lines and see which ones work on you. Ask yourself what kind of reaction your email warrants. If you were the customer would delete it, open it, read it or save it.

Subject Line testing shouldn’t be a one off. What works in one month may not work in 3 months time. That’s the nature of the game, so you need to test for each campaign and on an ongoing basis.

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